Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obama Viewed Less Favorably Than Bush in the Arab World

First posted on Daily Kos on July 13, 2011.

According to a new poll released by the Arab American Institute, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group, and conducted by Zogby International, president Obama's approval rating is currently lower than that of president Bush in his final year in office.

While Zogby International has been accused of right wing bias, the analysis of the data was done by James Zogby, founder of the AAI and member of the Democratic National Committee. Incidentally, he is also the brother of John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International. This poll simply confirms and broadens the findings of a Pew poll of Egyptians from last April which found that most Egyptians do not trust the United States.

The results of the poll, considering that Obama's approval rating stood at 30% when he first took office while riding the wave of change at home and abroad, should come at no surprise:

While the vehemence of Arab reaction to the U.S. was startling, the general sentiment echoed points made in AAI President James Zogby’s 2010 book Arab Voices, in which he reflected on Arab opinions of both the U.S. and our foreign policies. “American democracy [seems] a lot like damaged goods to many Arabs… U.S. policy in the region has increasingly undermined Arab attitudes toward America as a global model.”

This considering that Obama has failed to end the war in Iraq – regardless of what the pentagon and the punditocracy would like the American people to believe – and it is actually laboring to maintain a troop contingent in Iraq beyond the December 31, 2011 deadline, by pretending that the U.S. government is simply complying with a request of the "sovereign" Iraqi government.

Then, there is the expanded war in Afghanistan with also no near end in sight, the not so covert drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and perhaps Somalia, the NATO bombing of Lybia, the lackluster support of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt and only when it was politically unfeasible to do otherwise, the practically nonexistent criticism of Saudi Arabia's quashing of the revolt in Bahrain, while at the same time singling out Syria's repression of its own population.

Last but not least there is the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, as well as the total impasse on the Israeli-Palestinian front which is giving Israel free rein to pursue its illegal blockade of the Palestinian people as well as assassinate U.S. citizens with the blessing of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For all these reasons:

Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed "U.S. interference in the Arab world" as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation.

As a matter of fact, according to this poll, Obama's approval rating is so low (10% or less, depending on which country), that it is by far lower than that of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In conclusion, it can be said that in slightly more than two years, Barack Obama has been able to squander the goodwill of the people in the Arab world and recast the image of the United States as that of an imperial power that has little regard for the democratic aspirations of the arab people unless they happen to coincide with its strategic and economic interests.

Discussing the poll, Glenn Greewald writes today:

Given that it is anti-American sentiment that, more than anything else, fuels Terrorism (as the Pentagon itself has long acknowledged), we yet again find the obvious truth: the very policies justified in the name of combating Terrorism are the same ones that do the most to sustain and perpetuate it.

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